Texas has about 172 million acres. There are about 6.8 billion people on Earth. All 6.8 billion people on Earth could physically fit in a land the size of Texas at about 40 people per acre. Such a scenario gives rise to images of overcrowding and civil unrest while putting into perspective how much farmland there is to feed the population for quite some time. Population growth has both advantages and disadvantages.
Advantage: Industrial, Medical, and Agricultural Innovation
Many of the world's remarkable innovations over the past 300 years are attributable to population growth: More great minds lead to more innovations. Assembly-line manufacturing itself is an adaptation to an increasing population and the need for greater and faster output. More people around the world are living longer lives than even a century earlier thanks to modern medical achievements. And while agricultural resources are a very real concern as the world's population grows, the world's increase in population is responsible for a greater consciousness of the need for additional resources as well as the innovations to produce food at the pace of population growth.
Advantage: Economic Growth
A growing population can generate economic growth. The birth of more people equates to a greater number of parents investing in their youth. Increased purchases in products such as food, clothing, education-related expenses, sporting goods and toys feed the economy. Parents with small children purchase larger homes with more bedrooms and bathrooms to make room for their children. The larger homes that parents with children purchase feed the construction and home improvement industries economically. Children then grow into adults who work for pay and spend it in the economy.
Disadvantage: Food Shortage
Unchecked population growth without equal agricultural advancement to meet it leads to food shortages. Fortunately, agricultural supply worldwide currently exceeds the demand of the world population. While food shortage is a valid concern of population growth, current research suggests the world population is growing at an increasingly slower rate and several developed nations are experiencing negative population growth. Slowing population growth combined with modern agriculture make it difficult to estimate a point when the population's demand for food outweighs the supply. Food distribution does remain a concern in some areas of the world.
Disadvantage: Property Shortage
Although the world population is a long way from being large enough to occupy all of the habitable land on earth, unchecked population growth can inspire overcrowding and civil unrest. Areas with high populations experience this now. In the developed world, however, population growth is waning, leaving fewer risks of property shortages.
Disadvantage: Aging Dependency
The world's growing population includes a large and dependent aging segment. In the United States, the aging population as defined by people over the age of 65 is expected to comprise almost 20 percent of the population by 2030 -- an 80 percent increase from 2000. Changes in population distribution such as this one can make a society assess how it cares for certain populations and how it allocates resources for such care.
- U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. and World Population Clocks
- Center for Disease Control, Public Health and Aging: Trends in Aging -- United States and Worldwide, M.R. Goulding, 2003
- Population Research Institute, US Census Report Reveals Benefits of Population Growth
- Blogs.Worldbank.org, Can Rapid Population Growth be Good or Economic Development?, Wolfgang Fengler, 2010
- BBC News, World Population Growth 'Falling', 2004
- Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images